Elevating a world-class space museum in small-town Kansas

Space enthusiasts will travel long distances for close encounters at the Cosmosphere, a space museum and science and education center in Hutchinson, Kansas. But it has room for growth as a roadside attraction. The museum needed to appeal to a more universal demographic — the family unit — to increase local attendance.

In search of more visitors and a better website experience, the space museum landed on Howerton+White.

Let’s be honest, having a world-class space museum as a client is pretty cool, says Bryan Malone, a partner at Howerton+White (H+W). Their leadership group and staff have always been great to work with and the opportunity to expand on that relationship has been a pleasure.

H+W had previously worked with the museum on the launch of Space Race IPA.

The Cosmosphere is a treasure for not only Hutchinson but the entire region, and one that many more people need to experience. Keeping that motivation in mind, we worked closely with their team to develop a website that looks great and has a more user-friendly experience but, more importantly, functions in a way that supports their goals of increasing attendance. We also implemented a new strategic digital advertising campaign for different pillars of their business that targeted specific audiences, which helped make it more successful.

H+W integrated user experience research and best practices to build a site that is easy to navigate and update. Just as importantly, strategic calls to action and funnels help to increase conversions, turning browsers into ticket buyers. Finally, competitive analysis informed the site’s architecture and design, elevating the Cosmosphere to the level of its competitors.

The Cosmosphere was over the moon with the finished product and the process.

Developing a new website, particularly with an organization as large as ours, is an uphill task in every direction, said Mimi Meredith, Senior Vice President Communication and Chief Development Officer at the Cosmosphere. Working with H+W, this process became one that is ending on a note of truly collegial respect and a sense that our team was expanded by the addition of theirs. Not only do they have the skills to deliver the most current approach to website design, but they have the care and concern to put the client’s needs first in the process every step of the way. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

A brand must show — not just tell — what it promises consumers for it to be believable. Our creative strategy was to show the look of awe on family member’s faces as they experienced the Cosmosphere together. A photo and video shoot at the museum captured stills and footage of moments of wonder and joy that every parent wants to provide for their child. They were used as visuals on the website and in creative assets deployed in campaigns promoting family attendance.

The team at H+W comprises professionals who have incredible creative skills, technical skills, experience and insight, said Meredith. This, combined with their sincere desire to deliver their best to their clients, makes them the best agency we’ve ever worked with. They created a new sense of direction for our digital advertising that has been very successful, as well as a totally new website, which brings a new sense of pride to our whole organization.

H+W also helped promote the Cosmosphere as a worthwhile destination and detour for drivers passing through the state. We designed bright and colorful backlit signage for high-traffic rest stops with directions and an enticing message that “space is closer than you think.”

It is all part of the journey, says Malone.

One of the most important things we do with all clients is to listen and build a strong relationship where we collaborate well and get results, Malone said. Having such a close relationship has been a difference maker and is very rewarding for our team. We look forward to many more successful projects with the Cosmosphere in the future, or as Buzz Lightyear would say, ‘To Infinity and Beyond!’

Ready to learn more about our collaboration with the Cosmosphere?